Last night, we celebrated our 10th Annual Ripples of Hope Dinner, Presented by Garden City Group, honoring ten of the stakeholders who have helped make New York one of the leading sites in the City Year network.
True to any City Year event, the highlight of the night was when our Corps Member keynote speaker, Bettina Hahn-Lawson, shared her experience working with off-track students. Eileen Rutherford, the teacher she collaborates with every day, shared, “Bettina jumped right in [on the first day], identifying the most difficult students and making personal connections with them,” as she welcomed Bettina to the stage.
One of the students Ms. Rutherford was referring to was Jordan*, who was notorious at P.S. 130 for his behavior and academic challenges. After weeks of one way conversation, Bettina finally had a break through with him, when they realized that they faced similar struggles with their fathers in their lives.
“The wall he built around himself is slowing coming down and I believe I helped take down that first brick that morning we worked on multiplication and talked about our fathers. He knows he can come to me with anything and everything—and having that assurance has done wonders for his academic performance. More important than his grades, is the way he now walks into class believing that he can achieve remarkable things.”
Bettina is one of 295 corps members, whose impact was repeated throughout the night, from students who shared their personal experience working with City Year. “My City Year, Mr. Michael, makes me feel that I can be a leader in my community,” said Mya Huger, 4th grade student from PS 149. “He makes me feel like I have a future, and that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.” Wilven Laguar, a student who joined the Newtown High School Breakdance Club, a City Year attendance initiative, found that “breakdancing has not only taught me about the history of hip-hop but also the importance of hard work, discipline, and finishing what I set out to do. These are lessons I use in the classroom and will be with me for the rest of my life.”
For many in the room, last night was the first opportunity to meet and hear from our Executive Director, Erica Hamilton. Erica joined City Year last summer to help fight our city’s dropout crisis, a crisis that is too familiar to her, having attended a Bronx public school that today would be considered a ‘dropout factory.’ “I faced a future where the odds were not stacked in my favor,” she said. “I know that the woman standing before you today wouldn’t exist if not for individuals and role models outside of my family, who invested in me and my potential when I needed it most. That’s exactly what each and every one of the young people wearing red jackets tonight represents.”
The night would not be complete without celebrating the champions who helped build City Year New York and we were grateful to have Chelsea Clinton, the Ripples of Hope Honorary Chair, help us set the stage for their presentation. Chelsea’s remarks transported the audience to the dinner table of one of America’s most iconic families. She shared memories from a night more than 20 years earlier, when then Governor Bill Clinton first visited City Year in Boston, and was inspired by what he saw. Since that first meeting, Chelsea and the Clinton family have done everything they could to support the work of City Year because of the passion and energy that our corps members bring to students and schools. Chelsea also captured a special feature of City Year’s culture that sometimes goes unnoticed— the organization is both serious and data-driven, while also being fun for those who share in its traditions. .
Before we brought our honorees to the stage we shared the video below that celebrates them and the first Ten Years of City Year New York.
In addition to celebrating the success of our first ten years, we looked ahead to what is next for City Year New York. Last year, City Year launched an ambitious Long-Term Impact strategy that will deepen our focus in the neighborhoods we currently serve, and will ask us to more than double the size of our corps, so we can reach nearly 15,000 off-track students each year. As Erica closed her remarks she announced, “this is our challenge as we enter our second decade in New York City, and we hope we can continue to count on you to help us in that charge.”
Max and Dale Berger | Seven Generations Honorees
The Bloomberg Administration | Up the River Honoree
David Caplan | Be the Change Honoree
Itai Dinour | Never Doubt Honoree
Ken Grouf | Love and Joy Honoree
Jed Herrmann | It’s In Your Hands Honoree
Jill Iscol | Moccasins Honoree
Nancy & Fred Poses | Bridge Builder Honorees
Mithra Ramaley | Long Walk Honoree
Presenting Sponsor: Garden City Group
Testimonial Sponsor: TowerBrook
Shoulders of Giants Sponsor: Alcoa
Family and Students Sponsor: ING
To see more photos please click here.
Photo Credit: David Andrako
*some of our students names have been changed